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Anthony Vitti balances a successful performing career with a professorship in the Bass Department at Berklee College of Music, where he has taught since 1988. He got his start in the rock club scene in New York City in the early 1980s, sharing the stage with classic rock bands like Twisted Sister, T.T. Quick, and the Good Rats. He went on to study at Berklee, graduating in 1986.
That set the stage for a busy performing career that has included performances in numerous Broadway shows and many television and radio commercials, as well as performances with a wide variety of artists, including Steve Smith, Gregg Bissonette, Carmine Appice, Toy Caldwell, Barry Goudreau, Jamey Haddad, Giovanni Hildalgo, Chuck Rainey, Sammy Davis Jr., Liberace, Nell Carter, Bobby Vinton, and Diahann Carroll.
He performs with Herb Reed and the Original Platters, the Drifters, the Coasters (as seen on the PBS Doo Wop specials), and Tomo Fujita & Blue Funk. Vitti is the author of numerous bass instructional books and DVDs.
"In my first semester as a Berklee student, a guy who knew of me from my rock bands in New York called me. Because I was at Berklee, he assumed I could play jazz; he asked me if I'd like to play in the Catskills between Christmas and New Year's. So I did—I met people like Nell Carter and Gregory Hines. I wasn't very good but I was willing to learn, I practiced hard, and I think the older guys liked 'teaching the kid how to play.'"
"They asked me to come back for the summer, so I practiced a lot that spring and went back. They also wanted me the following summer, but Brown's Hotel—a resort in the Catskills with big acts like Sammy Davis Jr. and Tony Bennett—offered me a lot more money. So I became their house bass player for the next four summers."
"When I came back to Berklee every fall after playing in the real world, I knew exactly what I needed to work on. And I would totally understand what my teachers were talking about, because I'd been doing it all summer. But I had no intention of becoming a performer; I was an MP&E major. I intended to go into studio engineering because I wanted a stable job."
"After I graduated, I taught the five-week program; then Rich Appleman asked me to teach a few private bass lessons at Berklee. I really wasn't that interested in teaching, but he asked me to give it a try. That was 20 years ago, and I love it. It's a great blend of teaching, playing, and publishing for me."
"Between summers hanging with legendary artists and Berklee, all my learning was about being a great rhythm section player. And that totally translates into how I teach today. I want my students to have the solid fundamentals to be great working bass players for all styles. The top things I focus on are time, note placement, the length of their notes, note selections, and consistency. I also want them to concentrate less on how many notes they're playing and more on rhythmic depth, to be a more supportive player—yet to be able to do their individual thing, shine through, and play with confidence."